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    September 03, 2008

    GOP delegates out in front on unions!

    Posted by: Chris

    Since I've been pretty harsh on Log Cabin for endorsing the McCain-Palin ticket, I feel especially obliged to point out some positive developments in these early days of the Republican National Convention.

    By far the most impressive was some polling data that got buried in the updates to my post on the LCR nod. According to a CBS-New York Times survey of the Republican delegates, fully half (well, 48%) of the delegates support either gay marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples.

    Here's my homemade chart that breaks down the percentages among delegates and voters from each party. It's clearer that really civil unions are the option that the GOP delegates go for, but that's not the real shocker:

    Cbs_nytimes_poll_delegates What truly surprised me is that the delegates to the Republican convention are actually out ahead of the GOP voters on relationship recognition for same-sex couples (shown in yellow highlight).

    Civil unions register 15 percentage points higher support among Republican delegates than among the party's voters, and the combined support for either marriages or civil unions register 10 points higher among delegates than voters.

    On the one hand, it's incredibly encouraging to see that level of support among Republican delegates for marriage or its legal equivalent for same-sex couples. This should come as a wake-up call to those on the left who consider the GOP to be a lost cause on our issues.

    On the other hand, it should come as a wake-up call to Log Cabin that it's high time to raise the bar on its expectations from presidential hopefuls, since fully half the party's delegates are already there on the issue.

    Before gay Democrats feel too comfy, however, they need to consider raising the bar themselves. With a majority (55%) of the party's delegates supporting full marriage equality and half of all Democratic voters feeling likewise, there is another disconnect there with the party's (viable) presidential candidates, none of whom were willing to go the distance on full marriage equality.

    (Hat tip: Marc Armbinder)

    A few other positive tidbits:

    RNC's Shrinking Violet (ok, Lavender)

    Log Cabin announced that about two dozen openly delegates and alternates (out of about 2,400 total) are attending this week's Republican convention in Minneapolis. That sounds like good news, but it's only one-third the number from just four years ago, when there were about 40. (Some 277 out GLBT delegates -- out of 4,400 total -- were selected for the Democratic convention, for those of you keeping count at home.)

    Rakegayguide Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Gays?

    I know I said this post would feature positive news from the Republican convention, but I just can't help myself on this one:

    The Virginia delegation to the Republican National Convention canceled their order of The Rake magazine's "Secrets of the City" guide because it includes a section for gays and lesbians. The publication is a guide to various attractions in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the gay section contains non-sexual information about local bars and events.

    The campaign for Virginia's Lt. Governor Bill Bolling ordered 150 of the guides to give to Virginia delegates as gifts when they arrived in the Twin Cities. But after reviewing the guide and finding it had a six-page section for gays and lesbians, they canceled their order, said AJ Kiefer, The Rake's advertising director.

    "We need to cancel the order for 150 of the 'Secrets of the City' guidebooks, Melissa Busse, Bolling's political director, wrote in an email to The Rake. "Upon looking at it, though, having a section dedicated solely to GLBT will be a BIG problem for many of our folks. We simply can't hand them out."

    Actually, this does qualify as good news. I can't imagine how those on the right could possibly make themselves look more foolish. Makes you wonder why exactly they were so afraid that their delegation might learn where the gay hot spots are…

    Gaypatriot Dan Does Dallas (ok, Minneapolis)

    A handful of gay bloggers got credentials to cover the Democratic National Convention -- Andy Towle (Towleroad), Daniel DeRito (Thought Theater) and Pam Spaulding, Russ Belville and (my favorite!) Autumn Sandeen from Pam's House Blend.

    But it's pretty fantastic that Dan Blatt (Gay Patriot West of the Gay Patriot blog) was awarded credentials as an out gay blogger covering the GOP confab.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Dan at the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association convention in San Diego last year, and came away very impressed. He's a very fun and engaging guy, and my jaw was agape at how he can bang out on-the-spot posts in the time it takes me to form my thoughts on what I might have to say.

    He's already made some interesting observations (here and here) on what it's like to be an openly gay blogger in the belly of the beast .

    Kolbe_1 Jim Kolbe's Big Blind Item

    Jim Kolbe first came out while serving as a Republican congressman from Arizona when he thought he was about to be outed by the Advocate and gay activists who were angry that he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (a vote he finally recanted last year). So it's a bit surprising (and fun) to see him engaging in a bit of public gossip about closeted party brethren still serving.

    In a well-received speech at Log Cabin's Big Tent Event yesterday, Kolbe remarked on the fact that his retirement in January last year left no openly gay Republicans in Congress:

    “Don’t worry, there are others there,” Kolbe said of gays in the House. “We just need to make them feel more comfortable.”

    You taking notes, Mike Rogers? Er, let's hope not.

    Less fun was Kolbe's full-throated endorsement of John McCain, based in part on the reaction the Arizona senator had back in '96 to Kolbe's big gay news:

    Kolbe described confiding his sexual orientation years ago to McCain, who he said cut him off and held up his hands. “None of that makes any difference,” Kolbe quoted McCain as saying. “You were my friend yesterday and you’ll be my friend tomorrow.”

    Neilgiuliano That reaction is to McCain's credit, of course, and I remember him issuing a public statement that same year when my good buddy Neil Giuliano came out while serving as mayor of Tempe, Ariz. You may recognize the name because Neil has been doing a bang-up job since 2005 running the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

    If only the partisan hacks on the Human Rights Campaign board had selected Neil instead of a certain someone earlier that very same year. (Just kidding with the "hacks" comment, of course. Kevin's turn of phrase is still ringing in my ears. Not kidding with the partisan part, though.)

    Stevegunderson FYI, CQ Politics erroneously reported that Kolbe is the only openly gay Republican ever in Congress, forgetting Wisconsin Rep. Steve Gunderson, who served from 1981 to 1997, and was outed on the floor of the House in 1994 by GOP blowhard Bob Dornan (R-Calif.) in 1994.

    Whatever happened to Gunderson anyway? He was the guest speaker at my first ever Log Cabin meeting, about 14 years ago now, and I'll admit to coming away a bit crushed out. Anybody out there help out with a "where is he now"?



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    1. Tim on Sep 3, 2008 8:29:46 PM:

      Chris, Steve Gunderson is now president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit membership association of more than 2,000 grantmaking foundations and corporations. I met Steve about a year or so ago at an event in Hyde Park, NY, sponsored by the foundation which I serve as a board member. We chatted about his time in Congress and out, and I can tell you he is very happy in his current position, with better pay (not that members of Congress are poor) and significantly fewer headaches. His bio page on the CoF Web site ends with "Gunderson today lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his partner Jonathan Stevens."

    1. Tim C on Sep 3, 2008 10:25:48 PM:

      Tim beat me to the punch. Steve and Jonathan are doing fine; I see them regularly. I kid Steve about heading up the "Association of Associations", the natural final evolution of Alexandria's biggest industry.

    1. Tim on Sep 4, 2008 11:22:07 AM:

      I really just wanted to get in as the third Tim in this chain.

      Also nice article Chris, They ain't all evil, and it's important to engage in both parties if our votes are going to have value they have to be fought over! heh

    1. Charlie on Sep 4, 2008 11:59:52 AM:

      I have nothing constructive to add but kinda wanted to break up the Timfest before things got ugly. :)

    1. Terrance on Sep 4, 2008 2:59:39 PM:

      The news about delegates is encouraging, but what are the chances that this would influence a president McCain? My guess is slim and none. The Palin pick proves that he's playing to the most bedrock members of the Republican base, who will never support any legal recognition of our relationships. They'd deny us medical power of attorney and hospital visitation too, if they had the chance.

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